Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Dissociative Identity Disorder in children


It is natural for children to dissociate before the age of 5 so spotting Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in children is difficult. Most adults diagnosed with DID began splitting around age 4-6 with others as young as 2 and as old as 10 when they first begin splitting and developing alters.
Some personality disorders have been found to predispose toward dissociative disorders, including Avoidant (76%), Self Defeating (Masochistic) (68%) and Schizotypal (58%) personality disorders with Borderline (53%) and Passive-Aggressive (45%) having lesser, but still significant co-occurrence. Dissociative disorders, including DID, can occur in those of any gender, race, sexual orientation, and in those with and without other disabilities including developmental disabilities. There are a number of adults diagnosed with both autism and DID.

I was diagnosed with (Dissociative Identity Disorder) DID in 2010 in addition to my autism. I made this slide show from stills from video footage from when I was 12 years old in 1976. The footage was so fast you get more time to watch it this way. I made it as part of my own struggles in coming to terms with DID. There’s no sound to it as it’s only 46 secs and I didn’t want to add distractions. The original footage doesn’t have audio.

Of my 9 human alters, Da is feisty and comedic, Carol is friendly but off in her own world, Marnie is confrontational, defensive and Willie is aloof, detached, takes charge during chaos and tends to exit. Looks like Da starts the clip with awareness of her actions, there’s a switch to Carol at slide 3 as if she has no idea what she’s been in the middle of, then a sudden switch back to Da in slide 5 fully back on track, at slide 9 there’s a transition as if Da is momentarily offline, then at slide 10 there’s a sudden swipe at the camera by Marnie who looks as if the camera is invading her (probably not aware Da has strode up to the camera) and Marnie is there until the end but someone more aloof exits (possibly Willie).

In a second slide showit appears Willie was picking grass, being solitary. We’ve been interrupted, Willie appears displeased. “He” (for Willie identified as male since age 2) gives a ‘back off’ look then we return to picking grass. Aware the camera is still watching, we sneak a peek. At that point we switch to Carol who gives a compliant ‘pleaser’ smile, the we switch to comedic Da who gives a ‘come on you guys, gimme a break’ pressed smile then Anne, one of our shyest appears to be there, unable to look. Someone looks back, still finding us watched by the camera. Our protector, Willie, gets up and strides away.

Switching is not at all always this fast, possibly why those with DID seem simply to be different people on different days, weeks, sometimes hours. But switching can happen in seconds as several alters compete for which is going to present in the body. Each will have a different take on what they’ve found themselves in. When switching is this fast this is probably why nobody has any sense of being there that day… because there was no continuous sense of time for any one of the alters. We all remember the trousers and the jacket but no memory at all of the day.

You can also find more info at my website http://www.donnawilliams.netincluding my consultation page for DID where I offer online Peer Support.

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.